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    Re: Quartz article: reinstating celestial...
    From: Henry Halboth
    Date: 2015 Oct 20, 23:19 -0400

    You are certainly correct in your assessment of the Naval Academy's schoolastic goals. Their goal is not to produce a sailor but rather a well rounded college man, on a level with other higher institutions of leatrning. Specialized schools follow and are intended to qualify the officer in any particular activity. including at one time Navigation. It is interesting to note that at one time the textbook employed at the academy for their course in Plane & Spherical Trigonometry contained  all of the basics of celestial navigation - I guess they also no longer teach this subject either. I remeber well a quote from a naval poster on NavList which stated simply that "Naval Oiiicers are people managers - the ships are run by enlisted personnel", or words to that effect..  All I can say is that it was not like that in my day.



    On Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 9:52 PM, Frank Reed <NoReply_FrankReed@fer3.com> wrote:

    Dave Pike, you wrote:
    "On celestial being a back-up for loss of GNSS. Unless the USN has a device that can guarantee clear skies at all times, celestial is a pretty unreliable back-up. This leads me back to my original suggestion that this is as much to do with maintaining standards, engendering confidence in tyro navigating officers, and inculcating a strong sense of the traditions of the USN from John Barry and John Paul Jones onwards as with GNSS loss. The obvious short-term replacement for temporary loss of GNSS is SINS or eLoran, if available, and if all else fails, there’s dead-reckoning." 

    I agree with your suggestion about motivations, and I agree with your assessment on the appropriate sequence of replacements for navigation methods. The Naval Academy has an actual semester-length course devoted to USN history. History matters to them. Also, I think it's important to remember that the US Naval Academy is not a "trade school". It endeavors to be a general education institution, not quite liberal arts, but much more broad than what one might expect from a military academy and even more broad than the expectations for an engineering college. They aim to create officers who are ambassadors of a sort for the USA, as well as competent mariners. If you look at the course listings on their web site, it's much more than a school for naval officers. The topic of celestial navigation certainly fits in with the broad aims of education at Annapolis even if there is no expectation of practical value from the subject.

    I worry that some folks are reading too much into the tea leaves on this story (not here, but particularly in other media coverage). It's just one school, and it's a navigation education program with limited aims. This news tells us next to nothing about navigational practice.

    Frank Reed

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